Top 5 Old Misal Places in Pune
Misal is a staple breakfast/lunch/snack for a lot of people in Maharashtra. It is a layered dish, if I can call it that. Misalhas layers of cooked poha, farsaan or namkeen,Potato sabji and finely chopped onions topped up with a spicy gravy of different pulses. This mix is served with a set of pavs or then a couple of sliced bread.
It is debatable, as to where this spicy mix was invented. Many say Pune was the birthplace of the Misal and some others think it is Kolhapur. Most of the street food places (old or new) serving misal, have their own version of this heavenly mix. Folklore is that the Peshwas created the PuneriMisal and then it spread to the other places of Maharashtra.
If it was created by the Peshwas then why was Pav used?
The funny part though is that; if the Peshwas did create the misal, then why did they not use Bhakris or Rotis along with it. Yes, why did they not? So, the answer seems to be that Pune, was one of the early adopters of the PAV or the bread brought in by the Portuguese and this mix went well with white bread or Pav.
By the way there are too many reasons why the Pav is called Pav. One of the funny ones I like is, it is named after the way people used to knead the dough with their legs. Now, you get the Pav (in Marathi).No pun intented.
Varieties of Misal
Having settled that debate, Misal was enhanced per different cuisines who adopted it. The most popular varieties of Misal according to me are 3 distinct ones
- Puneri Misal
I grew up with the taste of a mix which people call the Puneri Misal. The variant here is that the gravy has the flavours of the goda masala and jaggery (yes you heard it right). This combination gives it a spicy and sweet kind of a unique flavour.
Like the people of Pune, it is mild mannered misal. I was being sarcastic here and that is why I am a Puneri myself. This misal teases you with the sweet and spicy flavours. The misal tarri or the rassa or cut is full of basic flavours. Puneri misal has the layers of cooked moth, cooked poha, potato bhaji, mixed namkeen and finally finely chopped onions. The tarri is a red onion gravy made spicy but also infused with tamarind and jaggery. Served along with slices of bread. Most of the times, also accompanied by gol bhaji. Gol bhaji explained ahead in the post.
- Kolhapuri Misal
The layers in this misal are almost similar but often you would find thick Sev floating on the gravy rather than mixed namkeen and the potato bhaji will be missing. The gravy though can be a very spicy mix as it has the base flavours of black pepper, bay leaves and red chillies.
The spiciness of this gravy is what is the attraction to it. I have seen people sweating like hell, gasping for breath and still craving for more.The way they make it spicy is that the oil is infused with the right masalas and then cook the onions and other ingredients in it. The oil is dark red in colour mostly and floats on the onion gravy tempting everyone to sink in. If you ask for a spicier version of the misal, they would give you a bowl of this chilli infused oil. Believe me you will not repeat the mistake of ordering a extra spicy misal again.
- Nasik Misal
Nasik Misal is similar to the Kolhapuri version of tongue killer mix, but has a black gravy instead of red. Some of the masalas used to make the gravy give it that colour. The layers are the same, but taste is distinctly different.
Some of the must visit misal places in Pune according to me would be the following list:
Popular Misal places you must visit in Pune
- Bedekar Misal
Puneri misal is mastered by Bedekar misal. This is a place over 60 years old; located in a small lane in the business area of Narayan Peth.
Run, obviously by the Bedekar family (I think they are from Konkan), this place is still rustic and crowded as ever. The misal here has a mixof boiled and mashed potatoes with the tadka used for batata vada, some dagdi poha mix, topped with a thick sev and finely chopped onions. The best part of a misal obviously is the tarri / rassa / cut or the gravy that I have been talking about.These guys serve the misal with two slices of bread. The rassa is unlimited, rest everything is charged for.
Although misal is the prime focus here, but the gol bhaji is not far behind and finishes soon. They still make a limited number of these fritters, so you need to surely reach in time. In addition to the misal, they serve some chilled fresh lime juice, butter milk and kokam sherbet. They have other things on the menu too, but one goes there specifically for the Misal.
The thing I like most about this place is the way they manage the crowd. They have small seats and hence about 30-35 people can be seated in a small room. A table has a seating capacity of four and the wall is marked with a table no and A / B for the side of the table you are sitting on. An old uncle (sometimes two) managing the two rows of the tables, are at the gate during peak hours. They note the name and number of people waiting and call the names as soon as a table is free. One must first check the table no and go to the cash counter. Based on the number of people eating you must pay a cash deposit at the counter. Order the food at the counter and carry your plates of misal without the gravy to your tables. The rest of the stuff is served at your table at your convenience. Once done, you again go back to the cash counter and settle the bill.
The uncles at the gate are good salesmen and when they see a non-regular they will keep pushing them to try more stuff.
Overall, Bedekar is a place you cannot miss if you are a misal lover and specifically puneri misal.
I have also included Bedekar Misal as one of the stops in the old city food walk. Know more about my Pune Food Walks here…
- Shree Uphar Gruh
Started by the Bhides, 50 years back, is another Puneri Misal of the yore and still going great. This place is again crowded always and a minimum waiting time of 15-20 mins to get your misal. Went there very early morning a few days back to avoid the crowd and have a peaceful misal.
This is a typical Puneri misal and I do not mind eating this as breakfast because it does not trouble my stomach very much with the chillies. The layers are the same and the gravy is onions cooked with moth again. They also serve 2 slices of bread and then everything else is charged except for gravy. They have a batata wada to die for. Whenever you visit this place give the combination of misal and batatawada a try.
A similar system like Bedekars to manage the crowd, but they have a much smaller place than Bedekars.
I recommend this place as I found it to be a very homely misal. Do not forget the batata wada.
- Ramnath Misal
Started some 50+ years back, this probably is the original Kolhpurimisal place in Pune. I remember the uncle who used to serve the misal about 20 years back.
Once, when I had gone to visit this place, during college days, with friends. He looked at me with his big eyes and in a rude tone asked whether I really wanted a KolhapuriMisal.He had probably understood that my stomach was not the play with fire types. He forced me to take the medium spicy version of his misal and I immediately knew what his big eyes were trying to tell me.
The tarri here is the kolhapurione and cooked with dry peas or watana as called in Marathi. Layered with poha, thick sev and finely chopped onions, it is a heavenly delight, with some sweat rolling down your sides even during winters.
This place has survived long with their misal and surely is a misal lovers delight, but it surely is not for the faint hearted.
Be warned!!! if you cannot take chillies, stay away from the spicy misal on offer here. Try the cut wada too.
- ShriKrishna Bhuvan
Another veteran in the puneri misal business. They have renovated and have a large place and a nice open modern kitchen. You can see that they are neat, clean and hygienic. They also have computerised billing so although an old place, but they have moved on.
The unique part of this place is their gravy, it is slightly on the sweeter side, that is if you ask for a mild misal. Even more than spice, instead of the regular moth or matki, they have sliced potatoes in their gravy. This is a much-loved place and crowded too.
The gol bhaji is wonderful. All the veteran misal people have mastered the art of the gol bhaji. Large and spicy firtters of gram flour, I guess mostly filled with soda too. I would loose anything if the plate of 6 is finished by one person along with the misal. Large and filling they leave little space for anything else.
Frankly, am not a big fan of this place but yes, it is surely on my recommended list as it is one of the oldest puneri misal places.
This is a new age Misal place, just about 7-8 years old. They have modern seating, a very nice ambience with good lighting. But this does find a mention in my list. Katakirr is spreading with branches and well manged ones too. This is a crowded place as every other popular misal places (somehow misal is a go to food for a lot of people).
This is another kolhapuri misal places. The gravy is one spicy delight and we were sweating at 8 am on a cold morning of 8 degrees. The potato bhaji is good, the poha excellent, the sevwas fresh. The beauty of having this misal in the morning is all is fresh, and you get to eat a misal without people looking down on you to coax you to finish your food fast.
If you selected the spicy misal here, please do not forget to order a Mattha too. Your stomach will bless you for it.
There are many Misal places in Pune and everyone have their unique flavours. Some of mention could be the one outside Bajaj factory in Akurdi. A small shed but spicy misal. There is one more on swargate which has a very unique flavour. Another one is n Deccan near the garware bridge. That has also renovated and become better now. I do not remember their names because they did not leave a lasting effect on the tongue. Many places also use namkeen or farsan which when dipped in the gravy start creating bubbles in the gravy and you know something is just not right with that Misal. So although good, I would not take chances with my Misal and would keep myself restricted to the top 5 – 6 good places.
I would like to mention that Bedekar for me stands out as a great old time favourite and Katakirrr is the new age one for me. In addition to the above list I also recommend a small misal place called Chavicha Adda, in Mahatma Society. This has the makings of a perfect Puneri misal. I know I will be getting into a fiery debate if I say that Chavicha Adda by far is the best misal coming up in Pune.